I have just started using sites like Fiverr and Upwork to plan trips for others. So far I have just produced itineraries, but some people would like for me to book trips for them. I have traveled extensively and know that you can be asked to present the credit card used when checking in.

My question is how can I avoid this? I realize that travel agents must have a way to do this as they book flights for people all the time. Is there a way for a non-travel agent to book flights for others using my own card? Some sort of app or website?

  • 1
    I have never once been asked by an airline to present the purchase card, though once or twice I have had the bank call to confirm the purchase (well in advance of the flight). Where has this happened to you, with which airlines?
    – choster
    Sep 18 '19 at 20:22
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    I'm curious why you'd want to do this. For credit card points/frequent flyer miles? I'd be highly reluctant to book flights on my personal credit card for strangers on the internet, as that seems like a way to be ripped off very quickly. If you're looking to do this as a business, consider becoming a travel agent, which is what you effectively are (depending on where you are, there are government regulations for travel sellers you may need to follow as well to do this). Sep 18 '19 at 20:27
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    In addition to the regulatory considerations raised in Zachary Lipton’s comment, I suspect you might find your credit card provider will identify a change in your card usage profile which could mean transactions get referred or even declined if the provider thinks they could be fraudulent. Using a personal card for what would effectively be trading purposes might also be against the provider’s T&C.
    – Traveller
    Sep 18 '19 at 20:34
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    You should ask about this over on the Money stack exchange, as they are more familiar with financial scams and rules, but this screams potential to go very very badly wrong for you with anything from large financial losses to prison time involved.
    – Moo
    Sep 18 '19 at 21:18
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    Leaving aside the ethics/regulatory aspects of this question, why wouldn’t you just ask the people you’re booking flights for to provide their own payment card details?
    – Traveller
    Sep 18 '19 at 21:21

Airline regulations are likely to be a problem here. As a general rule, they don't allow this. Your customer is unlikely to get flagged, but if he is flagged, he'll at the very least have to re-buy the same ticket with his own card, and at worst may not be able to board.

You say that you are new to the services, so you're not really experienced with how the compensation system works. There are ways this could blow up badly for you - not least, you book the ticket, they fly, then they dispute or cancel the work, or claim you did not perform adequately. You now eat the cost of the airline ticket. That forks into several options:

  • The customer paid you via the platform, in which case it gets reversed and you are left holding the bag.
  • You circumvent the platform to contact the customer privately, and he pays you in some third-party manner. Your first problem is you have violated the platform's TOS. Which means if this blows up into an issue, you won't be on the platform anymore. The customer can use this to intimidate you. But then --
    • If the private payment method is reversible, they can reverse it and you are left holding the bag. You have no recourse through the platform.

These online work platforms are also magnets for scammers. That is, they want to get free/cheap airline tickets or stuff, and they are looking for ways to use the platform to get people to buy them things, and then, reneg on payment. So if there's a way that's possible on the platform, they will have found it.

That begs the question of why do you want to buy airline tickets for customers on those platforms?. I don't imagine you just dreamed this up. I'd imagine that you you have connected with customers on the platform who are asking you to do this. Obviously you think they are legit, but hold on -- you are surely violating the platform's Terms of Service*, which means, so are they. Normal customers don't do that.

So yeah, this sounds like you are involved in a confidence game.


You are on the way to become a home travel agent. That's great! Now you need to choose something called a host agency and then your little company can use something like Square to accept card payments. Example plans (from agencies that offer GDS access): http://www.ictravel.com/clientuploads/Agent%20Tips/Startup%20Costs.pdf http://www.tqagents.com/plans.html and so on. As you are very small, likely comissions will suck.

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